American Dictionary of the English Language, Vol. 1

Author: Noah Webster


’ARSENIC, n. [Gr.’L. arsenicum.]

Arsenic, as it is usually seen in the shops, is not a metal, but an oxyd, from which the metal may be easily obtained by mixing it with half its weight of black flux, and introducing the mixture into a Florence flask, gradually raised to a red heat, in a sand bath. A brilliant metallic sublimate of pure arsenic collects in the upper part of the flask. Arsenic is of a steel blue color, quite brittle, and the metal with all its compounds, is a virulent poison, vulgarly called rats-bane. It forms alloys with most of the metals. Combined with sulphur it forms orpiment or realgar, which are the yellow and red sulphurets of arsenic. Orpiment is the true arsenicum of the ancients. Plin. 34, 18. native orpiment appears in yellow, brilliant, and seemingly talcky masses of various sizes; realgar is red, of different shades, and often crystallized in needles. Arsenic is also found as a mineralizer in cobalt, antimony, copper, iron and silver ores. It is brought chiefly from the cobalt works in Saxony, where zaffer is made.